Hamas could not be reached for comment, but Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas political official, said that the group “obeys all international and moral laws” in an interview with The Economist on Oct. 10, three days after the attack on Israel.

In the same statement that decried hostage-taking, Turk, the U.N. official, raised grave concerns about Israel’s actions in Gaza. On Monday, Israel’s defense minister Yoav Gallant had announced a complete siege of the territory, saying that “no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel” would be allowed into the 25 mile-long strip of land that is home to more than two million people, approximately half of whom are under 18.

“The imposition of sieges that endanger the lives of civilians by depriving them of goods essential for their survival is prohibited under international humanitarian law,” Turk said.

Dannenbaum, an expert on siege law, said that the defense minister’s statement appeared to be an unusually clear-cut example of starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, which is considered a violation of international humanitarian law, a crime against humanity and a war crime. (Though, he noted, jurisdiction over some war crimes would depend on whether the conflict is considered inter-state.)

“When you have a blanket, unequivocal, total cutoff of food, water, electricity and fuel, it’s just straightforward,” he said. “Gallant’s statement, explicit, without caveat, and from the top, stands out.”

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